Proud to be from Pittsburgh: Billboards transformed into local art showcase

Proud to be from Pittsburgh: Billboards transformed into local art showcase

PITTSBURGH — Billboards can be found along countless highways and main roads throughout our area, but a Pittsburgh man decided he would use them to bring the community together.

Now he’s looking to help the area even more, and it’s making us proud to be from Pittsburgh.

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“I’ve lived across the street from a billboard for the past few years, so every morning would like wake up and see anything ranging from a beer add to some lawyers,” said Sean Rothermel, who lives along busy Penn Avenue. “I felt like it was just important to share the idea that, you know, we are all in this together.”

He paid nearly $20,000 for 27 billboards in 20 different Pittsburgh areas during the month of July. Each billboard showcased art made by Rothermel.

Rothermel called it an outdoor art museum and scavenger hunt. He said the goal was really just for people to think about something other than COVID-19 for a while.

While many of the billboards are now down, Rothermel said he received positive feedback and hopes to bring it back in the fall using local artists.

“I can’t afford to continue putting up billboards. So, (I’m) trying to raise some funds for it, raise some awareness and right now actually what I’m doing with the original billboards from the first exhibit is getting those all auctioned off with the goal of, you know, raising some money from different charities,” Rothermel said.

Steel City Craft Emporium, which sells unique crafts, is showcasing the billboards until they are auctioned off along their one wall.

Owner Tom Swartz fell in love with the idea after seeing one of the billboards.

“It’s just amazing that someone that young does things like that,” he said.

The first billboard auction can be found HERE. All proceeds will be donated to Paws Across Pittsburgh, and it’s available to bid on until Aug. 31.

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